Becoming a construction worker in the connected classroom: Opposing school work with smartphones as happy objects

  • Stig-Börje Asplund Karlstad University
  • Janne Kontio
Keywords: smartphone, vocational education, identity construction, masculinity


This article aims to fill a very specific and acute gap; in addition to the few studies on youth and digitalisation, smartphones and other mobile tools, it is very clear that the field of research concerning these issues in regards to vocational education and training is close to non-existent. By examining male Building and Construction programme students’ collective use of smartphones in interaction during classes, this study contributes to increased knowledge about some of the challenges and possibilities that arise with the digitalisation of vocational education and training. The study uses new and innovative methods regarding how students’ digital activities in the classroom could be captured and studied, and approaches video recorded data through the lens of Sara Ahmed’s ideas of happy objects (2010), and the concept of community of practice (Wenger, 1998). The analyses show how the identity constructing processes that take shape when the students orient towards the smartphone as a happy object intersect with the students’ future vocational identity as building and constructing workers, as well as explicating an anti-school culture.


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How to Cite
Asplund, S.-B., & Kontio, J. (2020). Becoming a construction worker in the connected classroom: Opposing school work with smartphones as happy objects. Nordic Journal of Vocational Education and Training, 10(1), 65-94.